May 16, 2011
800 N. Washing Ave Minneapolis, MN www.barlagrassa.com/
Recent James Beard Award winning chef, Isaac Becker, runs this very popular Italian restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. After learning of his accolades with the James Beard Foundation, we decided to make reservations a week prior to coming to the city in hopes of enjoying some delicious Italian cuisine at the hands of a masterful chef.
Bar La Grassa is not where I would have expected it to be. The signage outside simply reads “BLG” and the building is not where you’d typically expect to find a fine dining restaurant. We pulled up on to the street and grabbed a stall about a block away. Although we had reservations for 5:30, when we walked in the restaurant was already packed to almost full capacity. Although Bar La Grassa is certainly a fine dining experience when it comes to the food, the atmosphere is a mix of casual and elegant.
As I often do when visiting a well known restaurant for the first time, I asked the server what we should order. She pointed out a few of the popular choices and we ordered them all! For the pastas you can order in small or large portions so we opted for small plates to share. Here’s what we had:
Crab Ravioli – Although thinner than I would have expected, the crab ravioli was decent. The crab tasted fresh and the sauce was seasoned well. The only gripe with this dish was the fact that it was brought to us cold.
Gnocchi with orange & cauliflower – An interesting combination of citrus and cauliflower, this gnocchi dish is perhaps one of the more popular on the menu. The gnocchi were soft and fluffy, infused with the a hint of orange flavor.
If (and by that I mean “when”) I return to Bar La Grassa I’m definitely bringing my wife to try the soft egg & lobster bruschetta. It is a perfectly crafted combination of luxuriously fluffy eggs, sweet lobster, and the richness of truffle oil. The bruschetta works as a textural element as well as a sponge to absorb all the great flavors. I really enjoyed this bruschetta to the point where I felt sorry for a table near us that I saw ordering a different bruschetta option after debating on whether or not to try this one.
The gnocchi was an interesting and delicious combination of orange tang and sweet cauliflower. There is not a whole lot of great gnocchi to be had back home. I really wish that we had gnocchi that was as soft and “pillow-like” like the ones prepared at Bar La Grassa.
The only down part of the night was the Crab Ravioli which, while fine in flavor, was brought to our table cold. In stark contrast to the pipping hot gnocchi, my sister and I thought that this was perhaps how the ravioli was supposed to be served. Just out of curiosity I inquired with our server who told us that the ravioli is supposed to be served hot. She offered to bring us another but we had already eaten all of them and didn’t feel it was necessary to get another order. At the end of the meal we found that she had the ravioli removed, which I was very appreciative of (really they didn’t have to).
Dessert at Bar La Grassa is also great, but I didn’t find them to be as interesting as the gnocchi and bruschetta. The ice cream served along with either dessert was excellent though.
All in all I’d say that I enjoyed our dinner at Bar La Grassa. It is definitely a “happening” place and although the restaurant can be a bit too loud for my taste at times, I can certainly appreciate the energy and the vibe. Service was excellent which rounded out a very pleasant dining experience.
I’m sure that there will be a few special dinners in my future that will involve Bar La Grassa!
Bar La Grassa
800 Washington Ave N Minneapolis, MN 55401
Tagged with: Bar La Grassa • Chef Isaac Becker • Italian • James Beard Award Winner • Minneapolis • Minnesota